Traveling in Arizona

Santa Rita Prickly Pear

Santa Rita Prickly Pear © 2013 Bo Mackison

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The neighborhood cactus, a lovely Prickly Pear named for Santa Rita Mountains where they grow abundantly, threw this goodbye party for me – a massive show of yellow blossoms amidst a multitude of purple pads. A finer sending-off gift I have never received!

It was sunny and a mild 71˚F when I left my home situated between the Sonoran Desert to the west and the Santa Rita Mountains to the east. The highest temperatures of the year were predicted for  the next few days — nearing 100˚ — and  so it was time to return to the Midwest for the summer.

Copper Country

Copper Basin Railway © 2013 Bo Mackison

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Though I love Tolkien’s writings, his words didn’t quite apply to my meanderings on my first travel day. I was wandering and I did get lost, but it was not for nought. I missed a turn and so ended up in copper country east of Phoenix instead of at my mid-day destination, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I did see some interesting countryside that I otherwise would never have seen – the benefits of wandering.

No worries. I did enjoy the sights on some new-to-me roads as I circled back towards Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and though my picnic lunch was delayed, the blooming gardens lived up to all expectations!

This view is of the Picket Post Mountains, one of the first Arizona sights that were etched in my psyche on my first visit to the area. Friends introduced Sherpa and I to the diversity and beauty of the desert at Boyce Thompson, and it was like coming home. Four years later, this view still evokes fond memories of my realization that I had found “my place”. And I hadn’t been aware that there was a place I needed to find!

Salt River Canyon

Salt River Canyon © 2013 Bo Mackison

One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more.
~ Thomas Jefferson

I drove from Globe to Show Low, Arizona on the last part of the day’s journey, driving on sharp turns through the mountains, dropping deep into the Salt River Canyon, and then rising into the White Mountains. The views were spectacular, and since I was following my own schedule that allowed for plenty of interruptions, I pulled off at nearly every overlook, just to take in the scenery.

Nothing like standing on the edge of a mountain cliff, studying masses of white flowers on climbing vines that cover the white rock of the White Mountains, viewing a white rapids river thousands of feet below, watching the red tail hawks soar overhead, to remind me that I am but a speck of dust in this mighty Universe.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.    She is traveling cross-country, and thinking about the Universe.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Wonderful sights. Boyce Thompson sounds like a real treat – love to visit it some time.

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